Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie does what other 2024 Republican presidential contenders rarely do by condemning presumptive frontrunner Donald Trump, even if the rebuke comes two election cycles too late.
Christie idled on a chance to chastise Trump when they shared a debate stage in 2016 – something he now calls a “strategic error.” He supported the former president in 2016 and 2020, helping with debate preparation and more.
But the final straw for Christie came on election night in 2020, when Trump stood behind the presidential seal and falsely claimed the election had been stolen.
“When you put yourself ahead of our democracy as president of the United States, it’s over,” Christie said.
Chris Christie wants to take down Donald Trump
In a town hall Monday evening at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics – a frequent stop for presidential candidates in the early voting state – Christie blasted Trump and said the country needs someone with guts to take him down in 2024. He said he would decide in the next two months whether he’s running.
Christie said Republicans need to find someone who can do to Trump what he did to Marco Rubio in a 2016 debate, when Rubio awkwardly repeated talking points as Christie knocked him off his game. That’s the only thing that will defeat Trump, Christie said.
“You have to be fearless because he will come right back at you,” Christie said. “So you need to think about who’s got the skill to do that and who’s got the guts to do that because it’s not going to end nicely. No matter what, his end will not be calm and quiet.”
Attacks on investigations and DeSantis:Takeaways from Trump’s first major 2024 campaign rally
Christie slams Trump over ‘retribution’ comment
“Trump said a few weeks ago, ‘I am your retribution,'” Christie said. “Guess what, everybody? No thanks.”
“The only person he cares about is him,” Christie added. “If we haven’t learned that since Election Day 2020 until today, we’re not paying attention.”
Christie blasts DeSantis on Ukraine
The former New Jersey governor took the current Florida governor to task over recent Ukraine comments in which Ron DeSantis said the Russian invasion there was a territorial dispute. He has since walked back those comments.
Christie was clear in the New Hampshire town hall about his position, saying the war in Ukraine is “authoritarian aggression” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
DeSantis needs “a wake-up call to Tallahassee,” Christie said.
Christie knocks Pence: ‘Who needs him?’
Christie took issue with Pence saying he would let the American people decide whether Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution to overturn an election was disqualifying for the presidency.
“Well…man! Who needs him? If it’s up to the American people to decide, then stand out of the way and don’t pretend to be a leader,” Christie said.
Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.